13 February 2012

Chaser Profile: Kevin Crawmer


1) What is your name and where do you live?  

My name is Kevin Crawmer and I live in Troy, MO.

2) Do you have a website or a brand name that people identify you as? 

I have a blog that I haven’t done much on, but I plan to.  www.muchoblahblahblog.blogspot.com .  I have a few years of chase logs that I need to get on there.  You can also follow me on Twitter:  @kjcrawmer

3) What got you interested in weather?  

I grew up in SW Missouri.  We always got Oklahoma’s leftovers, so I spent a lot of time in my basement of our split level as a kid watching it storm.

4) What is your favorite aspect of weather? 

I love great storm structure in the open plains.  Nothing better in my opinion.  I really like large hail and tornadoes are always exciting.

5) When did you first start chasing?

  March of 2006.  I only did a few local chases in 2006 because I wanted to dedicate more time to learn how to forecast.  I read several books by Vasquez, Bluestein, and others.  I used to love reading the Forecast Threads on Stormtrack and researching any term or concept that I wasn’t familiar with.  I really felt like I needed to pay my dues and learn to forecast before doing much chasing in the plains.  I didn’t hit the plains until 2008.    

6) What do you see chasing as... a hobby or a business? 

100% hobby.
7) Who do you credit for getting you into chasing and what have they done to further your career?  

Myself.  I have chased with several people and am very thankful for them, but I am a self-driven learner.  The more I got into streaming and managing multiple pieces of technology during a chase the less I enjoyed it.  Some of my favorite chases have been by myself with a phone, scanner, and maps.  I will say Jesse Risley was nice enough to let me tag along when I was first cutting my teeth in the hobby.

8) Do you have any chase partners?  

Not “officially”, but I have chased with several people including:  Jesse Risley, Brad Goddard, Brandon Sullivan, and Ryan Wichman.  

9) What is your most successful chase?  

May 22, 2010.  Bowdle, S.D.  Without a doubt.

10) What is your most terrifying moment? 

I’ve had several including my car breaking down in the path of a wedge and another instance of having to take shelter in a gas station cooler…but honestly, it was July 3, 2011.  There was a storm moving towards my house and I drove out to get a better view of it.  I ended up on a country highway with limbs falling all around me and no place to get out of the way at.  It took a long time to get home that evening because of all of the downed trees blocking the roads. 

11) About how many tornadoes have you seen? 

Gosh, I haven’t kept a running tab, but I would guess around 10 or so.

12) What do you think about people who chase for sales and the need to get up close and personal with Mother Nature?  

I don’t mind it.  I love their footage.  That style isn’t for me.  I really don’t like the idea of adding the pressure of business into a hobby I enjoy.  My only concern with this is with the growing pressure to get those shots it seems more and more chasers are driving like maniacs to get “the shot”.  I think most chasers agree that irresponsible driving is the number one hazard in chasing.  That terrifies me.

13) Describe your dream chase. 

It would be in South Dakota with:  beautiful structure, photogenic tornadoes in a wide open field, and some monster hail in the aftermath.  

14) What is your favorite set up to chase?  

High instability, low to moderate shear.  I’ve had too many chases that were ruined by too much shear for the instability present.  I once left my house and drove 7 hours into Kansas on what turned out to be a High Risk day only to watch storms blow up and get sheared to pieces before producing.  I watched a half hour of this and turned around and drove back home.  It turned out to be a great move since the only thing I missed was a very brief tornado that occurred in the mess of storms.

15) Which state has brought you the most success? Least success?  

Most success would have to be South Dakota based on one chase.  I loved the drive in that state prior to that storm that it would have still been successful no matter what.  What a beautiful state.  I like southern Kansas and extreme northern Oklahoma as well.  As far as least successful I would have to say Iowa with Missouri and Illinois being a close second.  I’ve had a few horrible busts in Iowa and Illinois and I hate chasing in Missouri because of the terrain and road network.
16) Do you want to pursue a career in meteorology? Would you ever chase locally for a t.v station?

I thought about a career in meteorology when I was in high school, but chose another career.  I can’t see myself chasing for a local station.  I really don’t like chasing in the St. Louis metro area and I would prefer to be at home with my family during those events.

17) What do you see chasing as being like in 5-10 years? 

Tough to say.  I guess it depends on how much of our hobby is on T.V. at the time.  I will say that I am very fortunate to start chasing when I did.  I respect the old school chasers that used to look at hand written maps first thing in the morning and then drive to a target and hope for the best.  

18) Despite all the deaths and destruction in 2011, are you looking forward to chasing in 2012 knowing you can run into a Tuscaloosa or Joplin? 

This is a tough one for me.  I spent the first 20 years of my life in the Joplin area.  I remember holding my daughter and crying with the Tuscaloosa damage…Joplin took it to another level.  I didn’t chase outside of my surrounding counties after this.  I was able to volunteer through Americorp to help with the cleanup efforts several times.  I had considered getting out of chasing all together, but after seeing how many lives in Joplin were touched by just a little bit of effort from people on the scene I realized that it was important to continue doing what I love.

19) Is there any point in time where you had no desire to chase anymore? What caused that and what gave you the power to move on? 

See above.  Honestly, watching Jeff and Karen P’s DVD on the Joplin tornado gave me some peace about what we can do to help the situation.  That storm went from “radar indicated” to showing a debris ball in one radar scan.  Jeff P. was reporting the tornado through every outlet possible in the minutes in between scans.  If that saved one life, it was well worth the effort.  Do I chase to “save lives”?  No.  I chase because I love weather and weather photography.  I do feel obligated to provide storm reports and a helping hand when others are in need.  Nothing disgusts me more than chasers bragging about seeing a massive tornado hit a town and instead of doing anything about it they go have a steak dinner and start posting on Facebook about their next day’s plans.  I was ready to hang it up, but then I thought about it and how much I would miss sitting on some dirt road getting a sun burn waiting for the cap to break and I had to stick with it.  I’ve had the pleasure of chasing in nine states and had some great times along the way.  I can’t let tragedy and the actions of others affect what I do.  That is my problem, not anyone else’s. 

20) How long do you plan on continuing chasing? 

As long as the fire inside burns.

21) Outside of chasing, what do you like to do? 

I love to spend time with my family, fish, mess with landscaping, and watch college football. 

22) What kind of music do you like to listen to on the chase or in general? 

I like to listen to anything from sports talk radio, audio Bible, to music of all types.  Something about the plains makes me want to listen to classic rock or country while I’m driving.  Jam bands and concerts are also good choices.  Once the chase is on though, I prefer to just listen to the scanner or silence.  I like to focus and talk to whoever I’m chasing with.

23) What is your favorite professional and college sports team? 

Professional would be St. Louis Cardinals and Kansas City Royals.  I know, sacrilege, but I grew up a Royals fan and worked for the Cardinals for four years.  As far as college team:  M-I-Z-Z-O-U.

24) Do you have a family or pets? 

Married to my wife Megan for 10 years and have two wonderful kids.  They are my life.  I sit out a lot of chases because I love them so much.  I have never stayed home with them and regretted it, but I have regretted busting 500 miles from home while I miss them like crazy.

25) Tell me 3 things that someone outside of chasing may not know you for.  

1.  I worked for the Cardinals for four years.  2.  I’ve played poker with a Cy Young winner using Cheerios as poker chips.  3.  I’ve had five shoulder surgeries and one elbow surgery. 

26) If you have kids or plan on having them... would you like to involve them in your chasing

I have a four year old son and a seven year old daughter.  We will see about chasing.  I don’t get close as it is, but I definitely would change my strategy if they were with me. 

27) Do you have a job and what do you do? 

I work for a physical therapy company.  I wear many hats, but my main role is the rehabilitation of patients.  I specialize in the throwing athlete.

28) How do you feel about people who say they chase tornadoes for the sole purpose of saving lives?  

I don’t like to judge people and group them together, but my experience is that most of those people like to brag about it online and live something completely different.  I appreciate those who have that attitude, but like others have said before me:  if you want to save lives there are better avenues to do it if that is your “sole purpose”. 

29) If there was one event in history that you wish you were around for to chase, what would it be?  

June 17, 2010 in Minnesota would have been amazing. I loved how these storms looked.  Just amazing.  I’ve always been fascinated by the Great Bend, KS backlit dark monster of a tornado on August 30, 1974.  As nightmarish as April 27, 2011 was, some of those tornadoes in MS and AL were so horrifying on video that I would have been amazed to see them in person, but I couldn’t have lived with the aftermath. 

30) Do you only chase severe weather or do you chase hurricanes and winter weather as well?  

Hurricanes don’t interest me that much.  I guess a bucket list item would be to be in the eye of a hurricane.  As far as winter weather, I would love to see thundersnow and intense lake effect snow, but I generally don’t have many opportunities to do this.  I don’t see me doing any of these any time soon.

31) Do you go to a college or university, if so, what do you major in?  

I am currently done with college.  I have two degrees and three national certifications that require ongoing continuing education, so it never really ends.

32) What do you expect in 2012?  

I have time off in March, May, and July on the books.  I hope some of it coincides with some severe weather on the plains.  Other than that I will be dependent on the weather to cooperate.  I need weekend opportunities to do much of anything.

Chase for yourself, help others, and drive safe.

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